NBA Saturday: Free Agency Market Drying Up
The 2012 free agency period is starting to dry up. The high drama which revolved around the top names in this summer’s free agency class at the beginning of July now seems like a distant memory. But there are still a decent amount of intriguing names left on the market seeking employment for next season. Some of the remaining names are productive guys who could easily break into a nightly rotation and anchor a team’s bench – whether it is for a lottery club or a playoff bound franchise.
The problem is the money available has also started to dry up. Most teams are already pushing the limits of the salary cap and a large number have also used their salary exceptions for next season. Only one team in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers, has more than $5 million in cap room still available.
Here is an update on some of the remaining guys left on the free agency market who could potentially crack a rotation and help a team improve.
Andray Blatche – Power Forward
Previous Team: Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards used their one-time Amnesty Provision on Blatche this summer and still owe the power forward more than $20 million over the next three years. Blatche has been plagued by inconsistency and poor conditioning issues the past two seasons, but is working out under the tutelage of former NBA guard John Lucas in Houston this summer.
The market for Blatche appears to be tight. According to a recent ESPN report league sources say Blatche has several teams interested in his services if he’s willing to play for the veteran’s minimum in 2013.
But Blatche’s agent, Andy Miller, recently told Michael Lee of the Washington Post that no teams have made significant inquiries toward his clients as of yet.
With stigma of maturity problems it would be hard to believe Blatche will surface on a team with a cast oozing with young players. Blatche could take the veteran’s minimum with a more established club, since he’s guaranteed to make at least $7 million from his previous contract with the Wizards, play good soldier on a veteran team and then hit free agency in 2013 seeking a multi-year deal.
Blatche averaged 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds in 26 games last season. In 2011, the seven year veteran averaged 16.8 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Jermaine O’Neal – Power Forward
Previous Team: Boston Celtics
After an injury ended his 2012 campaign most expected O’Neal would opt to retire to spend more time with his family and further advance his entrepreneurial pursuits. But it appears the former All-Star has yet to fully slam the door shut on his career.
O’Neal worked out in front of the Los Angeles Lakers and Milwaukee Bucks team officials in mid-July at IMPACT Basketball in Las Vegas and looked to have good bounce in his legs during each of the sessions.
There is nothing new to report on interested teams, but the veteran made it clear to HOOPSWORLD last month he’s seeking a destination where he can contribute more on the offensive end than he was able to do in Boston.
Carlos Delfino – Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Previous Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Potential Suitors: Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers
The 29 year old Delfino is currently in London competing in the Olympics for Argentina. He’s become known as of late as a solid three-point threat with over half his shots the past two years coming from beyond the arc.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be in the market for additional firepower on the wing and have more than $13 million in cap room available to spend. According to the Plain Dealer, Delfino has drawn the Cavaliers’ interest in recent weeks. But with the Cavaliers recently agreeing to terms with forward C.J. Miles may end those internal discussions.
The Spanish publication Ole recently reported, the Houston Rockets were also a team in the mix offering Delfino a two-year deal in late July. The second year would have been a player option, but the veteran wasn’t comfortable with the direction of the franchise and the monetary value of the deal.
Leandro Barbosa – Shooting Guard
Previous Team: Indiana Pacers
Potential Suitors: Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers
Barbosa, a nine year veteran, has averaged double-figures in six of his seasons in the league. The speedy guard remains a capable role player as evidenced by his late season stint with the upstart Indiana Pacers.
Earlier this week Barbosa’s camp expressed interest in joining the Cleveland Cavaliers per Fox Sports Ohio, although it has yet to be confirmed the team actually has interest in bringing in the veteran. But the Los Angeles Lakers have expressed at least a passing interest in the guard’s services according to ESPN’s Marc Stein and can offer their mini mid-level exception ($3.1 million).
Tracy McGrady – Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Previous Team: Atlanta Hawks
Potential Suitors: Chicago Bulls
McGrady is no longer the dominant offensive force who torched the league a decade ago. Injuries ruined that player, but he’s still a solid reserve contributor in the right situation.
Last season McGrady became frustrated over playing time in Atlanta and openly voiced those frustrations. The situation never became a huge distraction but it would be a shock to see him back with the Hawks in 2013.
The Chicago Bulls may offer the fit McGrady is seeking at this stage of his career. HOOPSWORLD’s Alex Kennedy say both sides have flirted in the past but no deal appears close.
Celtics’ Pierce Ready To Test Free Agency?
The Boston Celtics were just one win away this past season from reaching its third NBA Final since 2008. At season’s end it appeared the Celtics’ title window slammed completely shut, but this summer has been one of reloading and the team once again figures to be in the thick of the race for Eastern Conference supremacy.
The fact Kevin Garnett was re-signed, Jason Terry plucked in free agency and Courtney Lee acquired via trade has Boston fans thinking title in 2013. Throw in a solid rookie class headed by forward Jared Sullinger and there’s no reason why Boston shouldn’t be a tough out for anyone come playoff time.
But while Boston fans are thinking of the upcoming season, longtime Celtic All-Star Paul Pierce is thinking more on the long term. Pierce is owed $32 million over the next two seasons, but his salary isn’t fully guaranteed in 2014 as the club holds a team option.
Pierce understands that nothing is guaranteed and would be willing to test the free agency market if Boston decides to go in another direction.
“I think I am going to play this one out,” Pierce told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “I want to see what it feels like to be a free agent for once in my life. I think I am going to play this one out. A lot can change in two years. My body (may not) be where I want it to be, I could retire, a lot of things could happen. It’s not about the money at this point. I love the game. I made as much money as I possibly can. It’s about winning a championship and if I feel like it’s the right thing to do, maybe so (come back) but I really don’t know the specifics on the KG deal or Jason Terry’s deal. If I solidify my third year, maybe they opt out, so it’s about keeping your options open.”
The future Hall of Famer doesn’t seem nervous in the slightest if Boston ultimately decided not pick up the option for 2014.
“I mean if they don’t want me back, I feel like I’m good enough and I’ll be wanted by a lot of teams,” Pierce said. “I’m coming into this year and I just made another all-star team at 34. So I’m still feel like I’m playing at a great level.”
Up Close With Draymond Green
Golden State Warriors rookie forward Draymond Green was one of the most decorated four year collegiate players in recent memory after starring at Michigan State, but in the age of underclassmen dominating the NBA draft process Green seemingly will enter training camp with something prove. Green was the No. 35 overall selection in this past June’s draft and many question if his game will translate to the pro level.
Green spoke to HOOPSWORLD at Las Vegas Summer League about finding his NBA rhythm, his NBA motor and why he feels he has nothing to prove despite the skeptics.